Best Climbing Harness
Rock climbing can be a great sport that offers an adrenaline rush and a great workout at the same time, but this sport can also be quite dangerous if the proper gear is not used. If you are just getting into the sport then most likely you are using quite a bit of gear to climb either indoors or outdoors, and one of the most important pieces of gear to ensure you are safe is the climbing harness. A climbing harness keeps you connected to your ropes, belay partner, and, sometimes, the rock face itself. Whether you are venturing into a no-fall zone or making your way up a 20-footer, you will want to make sure that you have a quality climbing harness on to keep you secure and safe, so that you can relax and enjoy the climb.
When trying to find a great climbing harness to call your own, it can be quite difficult as there are so many on the market and this being a piece of gear to ensure your safety makes it that much harder. That is why we thought we would give you some guidance and did the research to list you the top ten climbing harnesses of 2018, and why they are the best and safest on the market. Important features to keep in mind is the fit, durability, convenience, comfort, and of course, the cost.
- Arc'teryx AR-395a
- Weight distribution
- Petzl corax
- Easy to clean
- Easily adjustable
- Black diamond solution
- Easy to fit
10 Best Climbing Harnesses
The Arcteryx AR-395a offers the climber a very secure fit and use by using warp strength technology to disperse the pressure of the body throughout the entire harness, so there are very few points where the harness or the climber is under too much strain. In addition, the harness features easy to see belay loop indicators, and tie points as well, making attaching the belay ropes easy to do and understand.
With a superior strength to weight ratio, a climber won’t have to worry about portions of the harness digging into his muscles or skin, and there are a number of small features that add to the overall comfort level of this piece of equipment. The waist belt has a softer, cushioned edge, and the leg loops are fully adjustable as well. Plus the overall harness is so lightweight you’ll barely know it’s there.
Whether you’re reaching for a chalk bag, a hammer, or a quickdraw, the last thing you want while climbing is to be fumbling around reaching for your equipment. As a climber, you have other things on your mind. Thankfully, this harness provides four reversible gear loops, as well as a rear haul loop made of durable polyurethane, so getting to what you need shouldn’t be a problem.
While the Arcteryx AR-395a is extremely lightweight and comfortable to wear, don’t be fooled. This climbing harness is about as tough as they come. Created with a burly double weave material and featuring stainless steel leg hooks, chances are this harness will last you for quite a few years of climbing.
Ease of Care
Overall, this harness is fairly easy to keep clean. The lightweight material allows for a quick wipe down at the end of the climbing event, and usually, that’s all you need to do. However, dirt and grime can get into the equipment loop area which is sometimes a little more problematic to clean.
When it comes to a climbing harness, the Arcteryx AR-395a is one of the best and most comfortable ones you’ll find on the market today. While it’s mainly used for sport climbing, it still has the ability to go the distance in quite a few climbing situations. The only downside we found was that it can be a hassle to clean at times.
- Great weight distribution
- Easy access to tools
- Can be difficult to clean properly
Proper safety often means a secure and centralized fit when it comes to climbing harnesses, and the Petzl Corax helps to keep everything in the right place through the use of two double back buckles which make it easy to adjust the harness to fit different body types for personalized weight distribution.
This harness is highly adjustable, with the size of the waist and leg loops easily changed as need to provide a comfortable and customized fit. There is some minimal padding on the leg loops and waist. Although we would have like to see a bit more, for the most part, the overall lightweight nature of the harness overall provides a lightweight and comfortable feel.
This harness features four equipment loops. Two of them located in the front are ridged, while two more in the back are more flexible, and can hold more equipment. There is also an accessory loop in the rear of the harness for hassle-free carrying.
Overall the simple construction of this harness and material used lends itself to long lasting wear. Although the adjustable straps have been known to wear through on occasion, there have been little or no complaints about the harness’s longevity.
Ease of Care
In most cases, a simple wipe with a damp cloth and regular inspections are all you really need to keep this harness looking great and operating correctly.
Overall, the Petzl Corax Harness is one of our favorites when it comes to lightweight comfort and adjustability. While we would like to have seen a tad more padding around the waist, and some of the adjusting straps be a bit more robust, this is a nice upgrade from the rental harnesses at the gym.
- Easily adjustable
- Easy to clean
- Not as much padding as we would like
- Straps wear out over time.
Black diamond solution
This harness provides great weight distribution, so you won’t have to worry about isolated areas of the harness failing due to overstrain. In addition, the personal anchor features dynex loops that are sewn directly into the harness for added safety when attaching to the climbing ropes.
This harness has three separate strands of webbing that are relatively low profile, which means that the harness easily stretches to fit, and allows for a wide range of movement. There is a very good chance that you won’t remember that you’re wearing this harness – not until you need it.
The Black Diamond Solution Harness features four pressure molded gear loops placed in strategic locations for easy access to all the climbing equipment that you brought along. The only complaint that we have found was that these loops weren’t strong enough to carry more than what was needed, so hauling up equipment during a pitch might be a little problematic.
While it won’t win any awards for extreme toughness the overall simple construction makes for a long lasting harness, provided that it’s properly cared for. While it wouldn’t win any tough man competitions, for most climbers, this harness should last quite a few years.
Ease of Care
Like many of the other harnesses on this list, most dirt and grime can be removed with a simple wipe with a damp cloth.
If you enjoy sports climbing, or you’re a relative beginner at climbing, this super comfortable harness by Black Diamond is a great choice for your go to harness. While we don’t see it as a harness that can be used to haul a lot of equipment, if you’re only climbing recreationally, it is a great choice.
- Extremely comfortable
- Stretches easily to fit
- Wide range of motion
- Equipment loops can only bear the minimum weight
- Not as durable as some on the list.
This harness provides adequate weight distribution, and the color coded leg loops and waist belt make it a simple task to put on the harness correctly, even if you are a beginner.
This harness can easily be adjusted to small, medium and large sizes, although many customers report that it runs a little on the small size, especially in the hip area. However, once the harness is adjusted, the padding in the leg and waist and the lightweight design make for a very comfortable fit.
If you’re looking to haul a fair amount of equipment up the rock face, this climbing harness is probably not the best choice for you. The two equipment loops, however, are usually quite adequate for a normal recreational climber or a novice who only carries a few things.
This harness is very lightweight overall, but still features solid connections between the different parts as well as reinforced tie-in points for added longevity. While frequent inspections for wear and tear are advisable, this harness should last for quite a few years.
Ease of Care
This harness is fairly easy to care for, although caution should be taken to make sure that the high-density foam in the leg loops and waist belt aren’t exposed to a significant amount of moisture, since they can absorb it quite readily.
For a beginner climber or one that doesn’t climb very often, the Petzl Aspir Climbing Harness is a great overall choice. It’s easy to adjust, comfortable to wear, and offers adequate security and safety overall. The only downside we found was that the two adjustable equipment loops didn’t always make the grade when it came to hauling equipment.
- Easy to adjust
- Durable construction
- Very comfortable and lightweight
- Great for a beginner climber
- Minimal equipment loops
Black diamond chaos
Ounce for ounce, this is one of the most secure and safety conscious harnesses on the market today. The use of a unique kinetic core construction helps to prevent unnecessary tension on key pressure points and easily distributes the load of your body and equipment throughout the entire harness. In addition, the rear haul loop is rated for 12 kN of energy, so your tag line is always secure.
The lightweight design of this harness, as well as the strategic padding, makes it one of the more comfortable ones available on the market today. In addition, the even distribution of weight over the entire harness structure makes it easy to have a full range of motion without too much pinching or muscle strain.
This harness features four pressure molded gear loops, with the front two loops being slightly larger to allow for additional materials if needed.
This harness features a number of aspects that contribute to its overall great durability. First, the waistband and leg loops feature an abrasion resistant outer shell, and the bullhorn shaped waist belt helps to prevent unnecessary wear and tear by conforming easily to most body types. And finally, instead of using the traditional webbing, this harness uses Vectran fibers to allow for a stronger, and more even weight distribution.
Ease of Care
While this harness is extremely durable and offers a great deal of climbing security, caring for, and cleaning the harness can be a bit of a hassle. The molded design allows for a number of nooks and crannies that can easily hide dirt and grime, which over time can lead to weakening of the overall structure. It is highly suggested that this harness is inspected on a regular basis for damage.
This harness provides a great choice for those who demand a more durable and more secure harness that is ideal for traditional climbing. While caring for this harness is a bit of a hassle, overall this is a great choice for a harness.
- Very durable
- Comfortable to wear
- Offers superior safety for traditional climbers
- Can be a hassle to clean and care for.
Black diamond ozone
This harness from Black Diamond offers Kinetic Core Construction with the use of Vectran strands to allow for one of the most stable harnesses and best weight distribution on the list.
While most harnesses in this price range have a significant amount of padding associated with the waist belt and leg loops, the Black Diamond Ozone tries for a more minimalist approach, relying on the overall design and even weight distribution for comfort. While this works well for the most part, most found that the harness itself was uncomfortably small.
This harness features four pressure molded equipment loops, strategically located within easy reach to the right and left sides. These loops are fairly large in size, so it’s easy to tie equipment to them to haul up the rock face.
While this harness is fairly lightweight, it is also fairly durable. The abrasion resistant shell offers some protection from the usual wear and tear, and the overall shape allows for less strain on the individual parts, leading to a fairly long life.
Ease of Care
Because of its minimalist design this harness is fairly easy to inspect and keep clean. While some of the tie off points on the harness can be a bit of a hassle to clean with a wash cloth, for the most part cleaning this harness won’t be much trouble at all.
Designed with the sport climber in mind, the Ozone Harness from Black Diamond is one of the best climbing harnesses for those wishing to conquer the neighborhood climbing wall.
- Extremely lightweight
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Designed specifically for sport climbing
- Many find the harness to be too small.
This harness offers a good deal of overall safety for the climber since it features reinforced tie in points, fully adjustable leg loops and Fuse Frame Technology that easily maintains good weight distribution and help to all but eliminate pressure points that can weaken the harness overall.
In addition to having a fairly lightweight construction, this harness also features thermo-formed foam that has been specifically designed for added strength and to help eliminate both pressure and compression points leading to a very comfortable wear. The only real complaint we saw in this regard was that the harness usually ran a bit small.
Like many of the harnesses on this list, this one features four equipment loops, consisting of two ridged high capacity loops in the front, and smaller, more flexible loops in the back. All four are easily accessible by the climber. In addition, the rear loops feature two integrated caritool tool holder slots to allow the climber to use a hauling rope for additional equipment.
Overall this harness is fairly durable, and the buckles are forged aluminum which aids in the overall flexibility and ease of use.
Ease of Care
While a wipe down with a cloth should be more than enough after most climbs, there are quite a few crevices within the harness itself that can easily attract dirt, grime and sweat over time. Therefore a thorough cleaning is pretty much mandatory.
If you’re looking for a fairly straightforward and comfortable harness that can be used in a wide range of situations, this is a great choice. The only complaints we found was that it did run a bit small, and that cleaning it can be a bit of a hassle with the many different parts.
- Great weight distribution
- Fairly comfortable overall
- Easy access to equipment
- Sizes run a bit small
- Not very easy to clean
Black diamond vario speed
This harness features wide nylon webbing that is not only easy to adjust, but that also has large quick-adjust buckles that don’t require doubling back. However, because of the design, there is only a single loop that your rope is attached to, so this area should be inspected on a regular basis.
The thick nylon webbing is surprisingly comfortable, but there is no substantial padding on either the leg loops or waist belt, so if you require that aspect in a climbing harness, you might want to look elsewhere.
Unfortunately, this harness doesn’t feature any equipment loops that appear to be standard on most other climbing harnesses. The Vario Speed from Black Diamond is truly built for hassle free climbing at the gym where equipment doesn’t have to be carried by the climber.
Although this harness is extremely lightweight and easy to use, don’t be fooled; it’s still fairly durable as well. The nylon webbing that makes up the harness itself is wide, easily adjustable, and is highly resistant to tears and cuts. While we wouldn’t necessarily trust the toughness when out in the wilderness, in a supervised gym setting, it’s more than enough.
Ease of Care
Overall, this is one of the easiest climbing harnesses to care for. The buckles are large and easy to clean and inspect, and the nylon webbing naturally resists most dirt and grime. A simple wipe down at the end of the day is usually all you need.
If you only climb at the local gym, but you’re tired of using their rental climbing harnesses, you might want consider investing in the Vario Speed Harness from Black Diamond. It’s lightweight, very easy to use, and the nylon webbing is surprisingly comfortable. While it is missing a few common features, it still performs remarkably well.
- Relatively comfortable
- Very easy to use and care for
- Perfect for a gym setting
- No designated equipment loops
- Not designed for outdoor use.
This climbing harness uses unique frame construction technology and bias webbing to adequately transfer the weight of the climber and his equipment throughout the entire waist belt and leg loops for a superior reduction in pressure points and a great fit. In addition, the bright green belay belt loop is easy to find and attach to your rope. Also, key areas, including the tie ins is reinforced, added to the overall stability of the harness.
Between the ergonomic design, breathable mesh exterior, and the firm yet comfortable foam padding, this harness is very comfortable to wear, even over a longer term. The mesh provides superior moisture wicking ability, and both the waist belt and leg loops can be easily adjusted while in use for added customization if needed.
This climbing harness features four good-sized equipment loops, placed on either side of the waist belt. Although the loops are decent in size, their placement means that hanging equipment might hit on the upper thigh and leg area a little more than necessary.
Overall, we really can’t complain about the toughness of this climbing harness. It’s well put together and the individual parts are well thought out and made of quality material. While it’s nothing exceptional, it will certainly get the job done while climbing in a number of different environments.
Ease of Care
One aspect of this harness that we didn’t exactly care for was the amount of extra maintenance it needed. The extra padding, mesh exterior and many loops and tie ins means that there are more places for dirt and grime to accumulate. While inspections on any climbing harness is mandatory, people who use this harness should certainly take extra care.
If you’re looking for a harness that is super comfortable, and you don’t mind a little more cleaning and upkeep, the Petzl Calidris Climbing harness is a great overall choice.
- Extremely comfortable
- Great weight distribution
- Can be a hassle to clean
- Equipment loops positioned poorly
Metolius safe tech delux
This harness features two belay and rappel loops to help minimize clutter and keep your pitches organize, especially during multiple pitch belays. Also, the reinforced tie in points and overall adjustable rise system allows for superior fit in a wide array of sizes and conditions.
While this harness doesn’t have as much padding as some other harnesses on this list, the ergonomic design is easily adjustable, and allows for a great range of motion, especially for male climbers.
This climbing harness features four equipment loops positioned in a diamond pattern that offers great accessibility and ease of use.
This harness is certainly tough enough to withstand most climbing environments, and we couldn’t find many complaints about the overall workmanship or toughness. The only complaint we found was that sometimes the reinforced stitching was reinforced too much, leading to places where the belay rope could become hung up, especially in falling situation. While this may cause an annoyance, with practice it can easily be managed.
Ease of Care
While in most cases a simple wipe down with a cloth is more than enough to clean this harness, special care should be taken to inspect the webbing, stitching and fleece materials, all of which have been known to attract grime, sweat and dirt. However, proper maintenance and care is a fairly easy process for this climbing harness.
The last entry on our list is not one that you should pass over. The harness itself is very comfortable, and provides easy access to equipment. Although it does have a few minor design issues that need to be addressed, overall it’s not a bad choice for a climbing harness.
- Fairly comfortable and lightweight
- Equipment loops are easy to access
- Comfortable fit, especially for male climbers
- Slight hassle to clean and care for
- Reinforced stitching may get in the way of the belay rope
Criteria Used For The Evaluation
In this case, we defined security as the harness’s ability to keep the climber relatively secure and safe in a wide range of climbing environments. Things such as proper weight distribution ease of adjustment and areas of reinforcement all played a part in determining how well the harness would perform, especially in fall situations.
With a few minor exceptions, all these harnesses met or greatly exceeded our expectations when it came to overall safety and security. They provided excellent weight distribution, and helped to all but eliminate problematic stress points, which could lead to harness failure over time.
While the true measure of comfort belongs to the climber wearing the harness, there are a number of design features that do make some harnesses easier to wear and use over others. Whether it’s ergonomic design, strategic padding, or overall lightweight webbing, most of these harnesses provide some level of comfort and ease of wearing for a climber. It is true that we found a few like the Metolius harness to be a bit lacking in the padding department, for the most part, these harnesses were shown to be a joy to wear.
As any climber learns very quickly, you’re often not truly alone while climbing. Along with your belay partner, you’re also likely to have quite a few pieces of equipment beside you, including a chalk bag, a hammer, a few dozen carabiners, a first aid pouch, cloth tape, and believe it or not, a pair of nail clippers to name just a few items. And you’ll be surprised how often you will use each one. So having access to these tools while you’re climbing is extremely important. Most of these harnesses, with the exception of the Black Diamond Vario Speed Harness provide either two or four equipment loops that are solidly attached to the harness, and within easy reach of a climber’s hands.
While a harness should be inspected and possibly replaced on a regular basis depending on the frequency of use, having one that has some longevity and durability is a good idea. Because of this we considered the materials used to make the harness, the overall quality of the workmanship, as well as how the harness fit and where potential points of weakness could be. While we did find a number of individual details and design choices that we didn’t always agree with, the harnesses on this list met, or exceeded our expectations when it came to durability and toughness.
Ease of Care
If properly maintained, the best climbing harnesses can last for years of enjoyable climbs. In order to make sure that happens, a climber needs to regularly inspect and clean his climbing harness. So it pays to take a closer look at how easy or hard maintenance on these harnesses has the potential to be. Thankfully, with a few minor exceptions, most of these harnesses were very easy to care for, and maintain.
More to think about when choosing your next climbing harness
A climbing harness is one of the most critical investments in your climbing gear that you’ll make, so it pays to consider quite a few aspects and criteria before making a purchase. Here are a few more things to consider when choosing a new climbing harness.
The Overall Size and Fit
Depending on your climbing style, and choices, you’ll either wear the harness on the waist, or just below that, around your hip area. In either case, getting a proper fit for your body is mandatory for safety and comfort. So when you’re buying a harness, don’t be afraid to try a few different ones on, and take a flexible tape measure with you as well. Taking a few measurements, including around your hips, waist, and thighs may be needed to get the proper fit. The waist belt should fit tight against you, while the leg loops should be slightly looser, but still snug.
It’s also a good idea to also consider the rise of the harness, or the distance between the waist belt and the leg loops. If the distance is too short, you’ll have to lean back unnaturally when you’re hanging, but if the rise is too great, your hips will absorb too much of the force of a fall, leading to possible dislocation. One way to tell that the rise is of the proper size is to try out the harness on a wall. If it’s fitting properly, you should be able to hang with your back, and hips in a relatively straight line parallel to the wall itself. If you have to struggle to maintain a straight posture, the rise isn’t right.
Q: How often should I replace my harness?
It is a good idea to replace your harness at the minimum of every seven years due to overall deterioration of the materials used. It’s just better to be safe. However, depending on your frequency of climbing adventures, it may have to be replaced much more often. So be sure to inspect it on a regular basis for tears, places of weakness and overall condition, and replace as soon as you see signs that it can no longer support your weight.
Q: How should I care for my climbing harness?
First, be sure to inspect your harness before and after each climb. Look for signs of discoloration, tears, or excessive fraying. If you see any of these things, it’s best to use a different harness and retire that one from use.
When your harness gets dirty, and you’ll be surprised at how often that happens, the best course of action is to first try rinsing it off to get rid of the dirt and grime. If that doesn’t work, a wipe down with soapy water and a damp sponge may do the trick. Don’t use bleach or any type of harsh cleaner since the abrasive chemicals can cause the harness to deteriorate more quickly. And of course, be sure to dry the harness off completely.
Q: Is a climbing harness really necessary?
Your climbing harness is one of the most important pieces of equipment that you’ll use in this sport. It not only helps to keep you safe while climbing, but it also provides support for your back and hips, a place to keep your equipment, and most importantly a secure place to attach your climbing ropes and pitches.
Q: What other gear should I be using with my climbing harness?
Let’s face it there is a lot of equipment that can be used while climbing. Between the chalk bags, ropes, carabiners, crampons, mountaineering boots, hammers, gloves, and various other climbing tools, your harness needs to be able to support, and sometimes work around a lot of different items. For example, a harness that doesn’t have adjustable leg loops can be quite a hassle to put on, especially when dealing with bulky mountaineering boots. Also the more flexible equipment loops might not have the strength you need to carry heavier equipment, compared to the more ridged design. So taking into consideration what else you’ll be bringing to the mountain is important.
Q: If I buy a more expensive climbing harness, while that ensure I get a safer and more durable harness?
When looking at investing in a climbing harness, do not think the more expensive the climbing harness the more durable or better quality it will be, as that just is not the case. The best thing to do when looking for a durable climbing harness to last you years to come is to look at the material and also the reviews to see how the climbing harness has held up for other consumers that have put them to the test. Do not solely be swayed by price as you may end up with an expensive climbing harness that will not hold up, make an educated purchase and do the research before buying.
The best climbing harnesses help keep you safe, secure and comfortable no matter the climbing situation that you find yourself in. Whether you’re tackling a multiple pitch climb, or simply hanging out at the wall at the gym, having the best climbing harness for your style is important. Whether you choose something from this list, or follow a different path, be sure to consider the overall quality, comfort and dependability of the climbing harness carefully.